Daily Briefing

Ski insurance: six things you need to know

Statistics show that a third of people who ski do not have any travel insurance. Here's what you need to know before you take out a policy

It's that time of year when many of us start thinking about heading off on a ski trip. But, in among thinking about ski hire, lift passes and the quickest way to get to the slopes, how much time do you spend making sure you are fully insured?

For most of us a ski trip is the most physically demanding holiday we go on and sadly many people will be injured on the slopes this year. But, worrying numbers of us are skiing or snowboarding without insurance. Government statistics from 2012 showed that a third of people heading off on winter sports holidays did not have any travel insurance, and of the ones that did, 31 per cent hadn’t bothered to check if winter sports were covered by their policies. Given that treatment for a broken leg in Europe could cost as much as £6,000 it is well worth making sure you have insurance.

Here are six things you need to know about ski insurance.

1. EHIC is not enough

A lot of people going on ski trips think simply having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will suffice. Unfortunately, that is not the case. An EHIC only entitles you to necessary, state-provided medical assistance at the same level as a local could expect. Given that most of the clinics and slope-based medical teams in the Alps are operated privately you could face a hefty bill if you get injured or ill during your ski trip.

2. You need specialist cover

Standard travel insurance policies do not cover high-risk sports like skiing or snowboarding so you need to make sure you have extra cover for your trip. If you already have multi-trip travel insurance check your policy to see if it includes a winter sports pack, if it doesn’t find out how much it would cost to add one then compare it with the cost of a single-trip policy with winter sports included.

3. Off-piste is off most policies

Even if you have a travel insurance policy with added winter sports coverage that doesn’t give you carte blanche to do whatever you like. According to data from GoCompare.com 20 per cent of winter sports insurance policies will not cover you if you ski off-piste. Of those that do the majority require you to comply with certain conditions in order to remain insured such as being accompanied by a qualified guide. So, make sure you read your policy before you go and that you are clear about what you can and can’t do.

4. Drinking can leave you high and dry

If you could be considered drunk when an accident occurs on your holiday, you may well find your insurer refuses to pay out. Many travel insurance policies include a clause stating they will not cover any claims that arise as a result of alcohol consumption.

That doesn’t just mean having too many beers at lunchtime – a heavy evening of drinking could mean your blood-alcohol level is still high the following morning.

5. Wear a helmet for full coverage

Another reason insurers refuse claims is when people don't properly protect themselves before hitting the slopes. Some winter sports policies now insist you wear a helmet in order to be fully covered, while others are more murky saying that you must comply with local rules which vary a great deal. For example in some parts of Canada everyone has to wear a helmet, while in Italy anyone under 14 does.

So, make sure you read your policy and check what local rules are in place.

6. Check your equipment

Whether you have your own ski equipment or you plan to hire it at the resort make sure you have insurance that covers it. Also, make sure you comply with any rules regarding where your equipment is kept. For example, if you leave things in an unattended car or in your hotel room you may not be covered.

If anything is stolen make sure you get a report from local police in order to be able to make a claim.

Finally, make sure you take a copy of your policy with you and you have the claims telephone number recorded somewhere you will easily find it if you need it.

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